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Marseille players in whip round for plane fuel

SoccerNews in La Liga, Ligue 1, UEFA Champions League 2 Oct 2008

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Marseille staff and players were involved in a whip round to pay for fuel for their plane back to France in midweek after a bizarre incident because of an administrative error.

Marseille, beaten 2-1 at Atletico Madrid in Champions League action, took off two hours late, during the early hours of Thursday, after representatives of oil company Exxon refused payment by credit card from the pilot.

An administrative error, it appears by Exxon, meant they had forgotten to send authorisation to oil company CLH, representing Exxon, to supply fuel for the Aigle Azur flight, said Christophe Villeneuve, who works for travel agency Thomas Cook in Marseille which organises the team's trips.

Flight staff and players and staff of Marseille football club held a whip round and the 3,000 euros required was stumped up so the plane could take off from Barajas airport.

Marseille coach Eric Gerets joked: “I wanted to buy two cigars but I gave 100 euros which meant I was not able to smoke today. I felt as though I was in a film, a bad one. Had we won, I would not have cared, but as we lost it was a little more difficult to take.”

Villeneuve added: “We needed to go home but Exxon were not contactable and CLH did not have a great deal of goodwill for us either. So we had to pay in cash which has surely never been done before.

“That said, for Aigle Azur, it was only a procedural problem and not a money issue. The company is a high quality one and should make some kind of financial gesture for our next flights.”

Aigle Azur were said to be concerned about their reputation after this episode, adding Exxon had apologised to them on Thursday and launched an internal inquiry.

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